Command & Conquer 3: KANE LIVES! AGAIN! AGAIN! AGAIN!

Brotherhood of NOD base on the defense

Let’s face it – we all knew it was coming. Kane was never dead, will never die, and it was just a matter of time before he crawled back up and started to wage war on GDI again. Of course, we always wondered how he managed to get all those resources overnight, but hey, let’s not let plot holes get in the way of a good game.

After the staggering success of Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, many wondered if the remains of the now-extinct Westwood Studios could dust off the Command & Conquer franchise and be competitive in the RTS market once more. Were they successful? Well, you be the judge.

Actually no, I will. I’m writing the review. So there.

The game’s plot is pretty basic: It’s a war. What else is there to talk about? For those long-time fans of the series interested in the lore, the game answers a lot of questions left dangling since the previous installation. The two main “races” are back – GDI (which represents the great freedom of America and big giant tanks) and the Brotherhood of NOD (which represents bald people). A new addition to the line is the third race of Scrin, which are big purple aliens that absolutely love tiberium and revel in it. They are a playable race in the game for an extremely short campaign that opens after you finish the GDI and NOD stories, and they are immediately playable in skirmish mode.

The system is exactly the same as the previous C&C games – other than Generals, which had a very different system indeed. Tiberium is the single resource you need to gather, which pays for everything (I hear they turn it into money or something). You also need to make sure you have enough energy to keep your toasters and buildings running, and that’s all you have to worry about. Tiberium is harvested, and energy is generated. Buildings are constructed without the need for a builder unit and can be placed anywhere within your area of influence. Units are built from specific buildings and consist of infantry, vehicles or planes. There are, unfortunately, no controllable sea units in the game.

So what’s different then? Well, there are new units, of course – nearly everything is brand spanking new. Some are upgrades of previous units from other games, such as the Mammoth Tank or Scorpion Tank, and some are new altogether, for example, every damn thing the Scrin have. They’ve also introduced the concept of multiple queues. Remember in the previous games, you could only run up a single queue? Well, now you can build as many things simultaneously as you have buildings that create that unit. In other words, if you had two barracks, you could build a rifleman and a grenadier AT THE SAME TIME. That’s progress for ya.

GDI and NOD battle over a baseball field

The graphics and gaming engine are excellent. You don’t need a fast system to run it and it looks gorgeous enough on medium quality. I didn’t have any noticeable slowdown when spamming the enemy with hundreds of units; the only noticeable problem was that sometimes the units can move a bit stupidly when there are other units in the way, although this isn’t really that much of an issue since they’ll get to where they’re going in the end.

Instead of the races being clones of each other, they each have their own tactics and style. For example, the GDI are good for “turtles,” people who like to build up uber defenses and slowly make a horde of extremely powerful units. NOD is good for spamming – people who like to ZERGRUSH KEKEKEKE and swarm enemy units with weak but cheap and quickly built hordes. The Scrin are good for people who have keep-away tactics, making sure you destroy the enemy before they get too close and before you get close to them. The campaign is rather short, about three to four missions each for five “chapters” for GDI and NOD each, and only four missions for the Scrin, but it paves the way for the upcoming expansion.

One excellent feature of the game is the all-star cast they used for the cheesy, campy cut-scenes that make the meat and potatoes of C&C. With some of the larger names today from TV dramas – There’s that Lando guy from Star Wars, Cameron from House, Sawyer from Lost, that Chinese babe from Battlestar Galactica, Kane from all the other C&C Campy Cut-scenes (he’s also the director) and a couple of others not worth mentioning – it makes the videos worth watching and adds to the mood of the game. You know, now that they actually employ actors (no more James Earl Jones, though).

All in all it’s a satisfying game. The fun is in the multiplayer, though, so after you’re bored with the campaign mode you can always go online to challenge random idiots and score it up in the leader boards. Another really fun feature is the fact that you can record and dub over multiplayer game playbacks with commentary, just like they do at professional sports events! Wow!

This is a highly recommended buy for fans of the series, and certainly better than anything else out on the market now for the PC. Even if you’re not a fan, get it anyway, because it’s probably going to be the best thing you will get until Blizzard finally decides to release the other long-awaited RTS game, Starcraft II, which might be another eight billion years (knowing Blizzard, ten billion). Get it today!